“Father, everything is possible for you.
Take this cup from me.”
The words poured from Jesus’ lips,
a plea from the soul-mourning Son.
The dark of Gethsemane’s olive trees
hid him from foes—for a time.
The same black branches
reached to accost him in secret.
The night was dark; evil marched.
He had come, from Passover Supper, to pray,
bringing the Twelve, then three only, to watch.
Soon they slept while he went alone
deeper among the trees, deeper into the night.
His soul grieved unto death.
(Who can grasp his sorrow? His desolation?)
His mourning became a bodily weight,
crumpling him to the ground in prayer.
He knew the cup that lay ahead.
He could see it, taste it–
the cup of suffering beyond bearing,
the weight of the Father’s wrath
against the world’s sin.
From trembling lips, he prayed.
He didn’t want to bear it.
My cup can’t compare,
as different as day from night.
Yet my suffering persists, years now,
wheelchair- and weakness-bound,
cancer, too, that will surely spread,
unless stayed by the Voice that stopped the sea.
So I pray, “Take this cup from me.”
Apostle James, (against reason?), urges,
“Count it all joy, when you meet trials of any kind,
because you know this tests your faith;
your endurance makes you mature and complete.”
James, I welcome your word;
it reveals God’s good in suffering.
But, I detest the cup;
I grieve at it and long that it be gone.
And, later, James invites the ill:
“Is any one of you sick?
He should call the church elders
to pray over him
and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the faith-prayer will make the sick well;
the Lord will raise him up.”
James would have me welcome trials with joy
and have church elders pray that the Lord remove them.
(Latter done, still working on the former.)
Apostle John adds a condition:
“ . . . if we ask anything according to his will,
he hears us . . . and we know that we have
what we asked of him.”
The Father, then, will give us only what he wants;
his (good) will be done.
But it’s against all in me
to stop pleading,
“Take this cup.”
Surely Jesus fell silent after asking.
Surely he waited for the Father
to hear his cry and carry off the cup.
But heaven stayed still.
“Yet not my will, but yours be done.”
The words came in surrender.
Granite-faced surrender. Unfaltering.
(I presume to know what lay ahead for him,
what he endured starting that dawn.
I read Gospel reports, try to imagine.
But I can’t comprehend.
Crucifixion. Sin- and wrath-bearing.
Beyond my grasp.)
“Yet not my will, but yours be done.”
To drink the cup; it was his Father’s will.
Is it, too, for me? For my cup?
Shall this be my prayer?
Shall I, too, surrender?
Father, take this cup from me.
In the Resurrection a new body?
Yes, I believe.
In this life healing?
Yes, my heart still pleads.
But this I must pray:
“Yet, not as I will; but your will be done.”
A story is told of two women
Both ill for years, both praying healing prayers.
The first, a missionary.
After eight years she gave up,
surrendered to God’s will.
Shortly after, he made her well.
The second, Catherine Marshall.
Tuberculosis—she prayed long.
Finally: “I handed over to God
every last vestige of self-will,
even my intense desire for whole health.
‘Lord,’ I said, ‘I understand none of this,
but if you want me an invalid—
well, it’s up to you.
I place myself in your hands,
for better or for worse.
I ask only to serve you.’”
That same night,
Jesus appeared and healed her.
This Prayer of Relinquishment
(coined by Catherine)
mustn’t be manipulation,
but full-blown, white-flag surrender,
a laying down of “please, heal me” prayers,
a true, “Thy will be done”.
To resist is mad—he will do as he wills
without my will opposing.
So what’s to be lost by losing control?
And what’s to be gained by giving in?
Relief. Peace. Intimacy.
If I plead only, “Take this cup”,
do I make him merely means?
I must also pray: “Your will be done”
. . .and fall into his arms.